Weak Europe demand, strong dollar take fizz out of Coke's sales

Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:19pm EDT
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By Yashaswini Swamynathan

(Reuters) - Coca-Cola Co's sales fell for the fourth straight quarter as demand weakened for its fizzy drinks in Europe and a strong dollar ate into revenue from other markets outside the United States, including Latin America.

Shares of the world's largest beverage maker, which maintained its revenue and earnings growth forecasts for 2016, fell as much as 5.5 percent to $44.06 on Wednesday.

Coke and smaller rival PepsiCo Inc have been hurt as consumers increasingly turn health-conscious, cutting back on fizzy drinks and opting for teas, fruit juices and smoothies.

The rise in the dollar has also hit the companies, which have a sizeable presence in markets outside the United States, including China and Brazil.

The average value of the dollar rose 2.6 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier.

Coke's sales in Europe, its third biggest market, declined 1 percent in the quarter ended April 1, while Latin America sales plunged 12.2 percent.

Sales in Asia Pacific, including China, dropped 4 percent, but volumes increased as the company sold more lower-margin products.

In Asia, pricing is expected to be a "little volatile and bumpy" in the coming quarters, Chief Operating Officer James Quincey said on a post-earnings conference call.   Continued...

Cans of Coca-Cola sit on a shelf in a store in London, Britain March 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth